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Blog Archive


Intro Astronomy Class 6: Mars (continued) and Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/14 06:10 CDT

Continue exploring Mars and learn about asteroids in this video of class 6 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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My ever-popular asteroids-and-comets montage, now in color, with bonus Toutatis

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/18 04:26 CST | 9 comments

My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.

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Reading Itokawa's life history from microscopic samples

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/20 01:58 CDT

When Hayabusa's sample return capsule was first opened and found to be very clean-looking inside, I doubted that there could be enough material for laboratory analysis. JAXA announced later that they scraped about 1500 dust grains from the inside with a teflon spatula, and these likely came from Itokawa.

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LPSC 2011: Analysis of the grains returned by Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/16 12:39 CDT

I'd been despairing of finding a good source for a writeup of the presentations in the Hayabusa session at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, but am happy to report that I've finally found an excellent one.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Small Worlds

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/27 03:56 CST

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Small Worlds, about the smaller denizens of the solar system visited in the past year, and due to be visited in the next.

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Asteroids and comets to scale, including Hartley 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/18 10:52 CST | 1 comments

Just in time for today's Deep Impact press briefing, which you can watch on NASA TV in a few minutes: I've updated my montage of all the asteroids and comets that have been visited and photographed to include Hartley 2.

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A little more information on the Hayabusa samples from Itokawa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/17 04:36 CST

Since I posted an update Monday about JAXA confirming extraterrestrial samples in the Hayabusa sample return capsule, JAXA has posted an English-language version of their press release, which contains a bit more information.

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JAXA announcement: Itokawa sample return successful!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/15 09:03 CST

It's official: in a press release today, JAXA announced that some 1,500 dust grains scraped from the interior of Hayabusa's clean-looking sample return capsule are not of terrestrial origin so must be from Itokawa.

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Five close-approach images of Hartley 2 by Deep Impact, with commentary

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/04 10:58 CDT

Here's the five close-approach images of Hartley 2 captured today, November 4, 2010, by the Deep Impact spacecraft, collected into one file. Boy, do these images reward close examination!

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: The Flight of Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/12 10:50 CDT

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, The Flight of Hayabusa, a recap of that dramatic mission.

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Report from the Exploration of Near-Earth Objects Objectives Workshop

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2010/08/10 03:14 CDT

This week, Jennifer Vaughn and I are representing the Planetary Society at NASA's Exploration of Near-Earth Objects (NEO) Objectives Workshop, or ExploreNOW.

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A look inside the Hayabusa sample capsule

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/06 08:42 CDT

A very brief item posted on the Hayabusa website included two pictures of the interior of its sample return capsule, one of which shows a particle.

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Hayabusa's return: a review

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/13 04:47 CDT

Hayabusa's return: round up some of the amazing photos, movies, and artworks that were posted and shared and Tweeted and re-Tweeted over the previous dozen hours or so.

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Six days left for Hayabusa: A recap of the mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/07 05:27 CDT

The Hayabusa spacecraft is about to die. On Sunday, June 13, at 14:00 UTC, Hayabusa will burn up in Earth's atmosphere, bringing its dramatic seven-year mission to an end.

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Hayabusa's coming home

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/21 10:12 CDT

It really looks like Hayabusa is going to make it home. Hayabusa's sample return capsule will be returning to Earth on June 13, 2010, landing in the Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia at about 14:00 UTC.

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Hayabusa update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/06/01 11:48 CDT

JAXA has posted a note on their website on the status of Hayabusa, which apparently reached aphelion in late May. Hayabusa is Japan's amazing ion-powered mission to asteroid Itokawa, which touched down on Itokawa to grab a sample in mid-November 2005, but suffered an injury that has left in doubt its ability to return the sample capsule to Earth.

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"Return of the Falcon," a new animation of the Hayabusa mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/11/26 04:38 CST

JAXA has released a 30-minute video of the Hayabusa mission, "Return of the Falcon," combining computer animation with actual footage of the construction and launch as well as images from the spacecraft of Itokawa.

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LPSC: Friday: Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/20 04:54 CST

The audience was rapt as Project Manager Jun'ichiro Kawaguchi stood up to give an introduction to the Hayabusa spacecraft and described the saga of the mission to date.

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Big News for Hayabusa: It wasn't hovering, it landed!!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/23 07:21 CST

Remember how Hayabusa was virtually still for 30 minutes? JAXA is now saying that Hayabusa actually touched down -- and more than that, they may even have a sample.

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Closer still to Itokawa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/19 08:46 CST

Hayabusa reached an altitude of about 560 meters above Hayabusa at 17:30 UTC. And at 18:00 UTC they are at 500 meters. This is still farther above the asteroid than the asteroid is big...there is still a long way to go before Hayabusa touches down...

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